Previously on The Americans, ‘One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov’
There are a lot of balls up in the air in this episode. For the purposes of cohesion, let’s do this and the finale by storyline.
In a matching pair of mousey blond wigs, Philip and Elizabeth enter the hotel housing the CIA’s three chosen Mujahadin leaders. Elizabeth poses as a telephone service woman and heads for the operator switch room. Philip waits for the CIA agent in room 629 to leave, uses his copy of the key to get into the room, and picks up the phone. Elizabeth tries various rooms until she finds the line Philip is on. She clips the line to room 629.
A few days later, they are ready to act. Wearing the same wigs, but different clothes, they play CIA agents. Agent Philip goes to CIA security and says he’s there to pick up Abassin Zadran. The security agents call from room 629 to check on Agent Philip’s credentials. Agent Elizabeth intercepts the call and vouches for him. Abassin is released into the Jennings’ custody.
The Jennings take Abassin away from the hotel to talk. They tell him that the two other Afghani leaders are colluding to sabotage Mujahidin’s chances of acquiring the anti-aircraft weapons (stingers). They incite his patriotism and his hatred for the communists. Now, if he were to go to the meeting alone, he might stand better chances. “I am Abassin Zadran. I am the one who cuts the throats of communists,” he says, staring our two friendly, neighborhood (and thankfully disguised) communists in the eye.
Back in the hotel, Abassin Zadran tells the security agent he needs to speak with his friends. He knocks on doors and the three go into one room to have tea and talk. Not a minute later, there is scuffling and grunting. The startled security agent alerts his partner. They go to investigate and find two dead bodies and a blood-splattered Abassin Zadran holding a bloody knife.
This story line was well done. It built slowly across multiple episodes. Seducing the hotel manager. Getting access to Betsy. Making an imprint of the key. Talking with Yousef to determine the best candidate. Intercepting the security call. Riling Abassin up and letting him loose. I’m very interested to see how it plays out in the finale.
Soviet Spy Kids
Paige tries to run away from home. At least for a night. She leaves a note that she will be spending the night at Pastor Tim’s. Philp and Elizabeth have other ideas. Leaving their younger child home alone, they go to the pick her up. Hasn’t the precautionary tale of Kimmy taught anything to the Jennings about leaving their kids alone? Maybe Henry will run away with ex-Mrs. Beeman.
Paige doesn’t want to leave Pastor Tim and his wife’s side, but Pastor Tim urges her along, apologizing to her parents. He also thanks Philip for sending over the reasonable rates for their upcoming trip to Kenya. Pastor Tim seems above board, but the look he give Philip when he’s hugging Paige is a bit creepy. Also, his hair.
Back at home, Paige acts like the average angsty teenage. Since her parents are Russian spies, her angst is more justified. Philp tells Paige that she needs to act as if everything is normal. Paige says it’s not normal. However, she concedes she didn’t tell Pastor Tim. She leaves the garage in a huff and her parents exchange glances. Teenagers.
Philip and Elizabeth are in their bedroom when Angsty Paige knocks and enters with a photo album. She asks if the people in the photographs even related to them. Her parents try to appease her, but Angsty Paige isn’t having any. Everything is a lie. She leaves the room in a huff and her parents exchange glances. Teenagers.
Good Cop Philip goes to talk to Paige in her room. He has brought pictures. Paige at Henry’s birth. Paige and Henry on a camping trip. Not everything is a lie. There are things about their life that are very true.
A day or so later, Paige is lying in her room when (surprisingly) Good Cop Elizabeth comes in. She tells her that Philip has found a way for Elizabeth to go visit her mother in Russia. And she wants Paige to go with her. Paige looks thoughtful.
Still betting the Jennings will use the Kenya trip as a cover for their trip to Russia. Paige will likely go and the Center will try to use her new ties to the (Grand) Motherland to turn her. I hope we have 100% more babushka, next season.
Stan’s Gut v. Philip’s Face
Philip-Clark is outside of Martha’s when Hans waves him on. All is not safe. Inside, Martha is entertaining. Stan Beeman. Stan stopped by, not for dinner or a beer, but to see if she was ok. Of course she’s ok. So what if she’s been staring listlessly into her coffee cup? Beeman is just concerned and tells her she can talk to him. She says his concern is unneeded and hurries him along his way. He leaves and Martha’s composure breaks. She takes her “wedding” picture out from the drawer where she hid it.
Philip returns home and tells Elizabeth that Hans spotted a man going into Martha’s and a government car outside. They worry over what this could mean as Philip can’t reach Martha by phone.
The next morning, Martha is walking outside, when Hans stops. He says he’s a friend of Clark’s and asks her to get in the car. Martha complies.
Philip-Clark and Martha meet in a remote location. He asks her about her visitor and she tells him that her visitor was none other than Philip’s BFF, Stan. Philip does well to cover his shock. Philip-Clark assures Martha that everything is going to be ok. He tells her, as he told his daughter, that she has to act as if everything is normal. Martha, like Paige, doesn’t know how to act like everything’s normal when it clearly isn’t.
Martha is back home, drinking wine and crying. She calls her parents. They realize she’s unhappy, despite her protestations, and ask a lot of questions she cannot answer. She changes the subject and asks about their lives.
Philp-Clark comes to see Martha and finds her sitting on the bed, her bags packed. She needs a break. Philip-Clark tries to calm her down. He tells her he loves her. I believe Philip loves her. He tells her everything will be ok, and they will work it out. But Martha can’t do this. What they have isn’t enough for her, anymore. Philip sighs. He takes off his glasses. He pulls pins out of his hair and scrapes off his wig. He turns to face her for the first time, as Philip. Surprisingly, he actually looks like a completely different person.
Martha, Martha, Martha, I worry for you. We all know what happened to Betty when she saw Elizabeth’s real face earlier this season.
Odds and Ends
- Maurice Must Die: Elizabeth-Michelle is suiting up Lisa for her first covert mission. She conceals a camera in her purse and shows her how to use it and what type of pictures they need of the stealth bomber. Maurice is suspicious, but Lisa assures him she can handle it.
Maurice meets Elizabeth-Michelle for the handoff — photos for money. She’s not happy that Lisa isn’t there. Maurice threatens to expose the film if she doesn’t want to make the exchange. They swap bags. Oh Maurice, I can’t wait for you to feel Lizzy’s wrath.
- Aderholt Must Spy: Aderholt wants to talk to Stan about Nina. He knows there was something between the two of them and asks Stan if he planted the bug. Stan tells Aderholt that he isn’t as smart as he thinks and that maybe he should look into the woman that shot at Stan. She could be the same woman who put the smack down on Gaad and Aderholt and may be the same woman who killed Amador. Aderholt should work on that. Stan drops the mic and walks off as the Mail Robot beeps behind him. I wonder if the Mail Robot recorded their conversation….
- Three Soviets and a Mail Robot: There is a lot of typing going on at the Copious transcripts of all the garbage conversation the Mail Robot picks up. Arkaday is frustrated by the lack of quality. He tells Oleg and Tatiana that he plans to end Operation Zephyr.
On their own, Tatiana tells Oleg she thinks this is a mistake. She understands why Arkaday would want to end the operation before they waste more time and resources. But if he ends this operation without a win, he may not get another. She tells Oleg, they need to push for more time.
The two go to Arkaday and tell him they want to stay on the investigation. When he asks them why, Oleg reads a transcript of a man and a woman talking about a movie. They might be married to other people and they might be flirting with each other. There is potential hidden in these transcripts, if they are just patient. Or maybe Tatiana and Oleg have just developed a taste for banal American office gossip.
- Two KGB Supervisors in a Diner: Gabriel and…Claudia (!!!) are comfortably sitting in a diner, grousing about American excesses, like an old married couple. Claudia worries that matters with Paige will move too slowly as Philip is sure to block their progress. Gabriel wonders if Philip might be right in his concern, and Claudia rolls her eyes. Gabriel thinks this step might not be right for Philip and Elizabeth. He mentions the boy that killed his Communist parents and Claudia says that it wasn’t a matter taken lightly and she thought they might shut down Directorate “S.” But even after all that, they still want to try again with Paige because they believe in Gabriel. Gabriel has compassion? Interesting.
This is the third episode this season that references a person’s name. This, from a show that necessitates its main characters change names like hats. Another episode title alluded to a Philip K. Dick novel that explores the idea of identity. More than any other season, the Jennings are being confronted and brought back to who they really are at their core, as opposed to the roles they assume.
I don’t know how they’re going to cram everything in next week. I’m trusting these writers to pull it off.